Real Time Crime Center | St. Louis Public Radio

Real Time Crime Center

How St. Louis' Real Time Crime Center Protects Businesses Before People

Oct 27, 2019
A six-month joint-investigation by the St. Louis American and Type Investigations revealed that the center is operating under a privacy policy that the city acknowledged to community leaders was essentially a rough draft.
St. Louis American

This summer, the St. Louis region made national news after more than 15 children were killed by gun violence in four months, leaving city leaders struggling to push forward preventative measures.

“This is Third World living over here,” said Alderman Samuel Moore, who represents the city’s Fourth Ward in North St. Louis. “This is horrible that we live like that with all the murders and shootings.”

Surveillance camera alert on South Broadway
Paul Sableman | Flickr

St. Louis aldermen will try again this year to develop policies that control the use of surveillance technology in the city. 

A committee could vote this week on a measure sponsored by Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, that requires the director of public safety to draft those policies, which the Board of Aldermen would then approve or reject. Any city agency that wanted to use tools like security cameras or license plate readers would have to submit a plan that fit those guidelines.

Persistence Surveillance Systems originally developed its technology for military use, and now hopes to bring it to St. Louis. This 2013 aerial photo shows the Central West End and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods in St. Louis. 10/8/19
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Dayton, Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems developed its aerial surveillance system to help the military in Fallujah. The company’s CEO, Ross McNutt, has compared it to “Google Earth, with TiVo capability.” Now a pair of wealthy donors are offering to help St. Louis implement the system and use it for three years without cost. 

McNutt said Tuesday on St. Louis on the Air that he believes the technology could make a big difference in a city that’s struggled with crime.

“We believe this will help major cities reduce their major crime rates dramatically,” he said. “And when you look at the United States, there are two major cities that stand out above all the rest: St. Louis and Baltimore.”

Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson at a press conference on January 15, 2015, discussing six homicides in 13 hours.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis' homicide level remained unchanged in 2016 compared with the previous year — 188. At the same time, aggravated assaults and other violent crimes were up and property crime was down, according to the latest crime statistics.

St. Louis' mayor and police chief on Tuesday touted an overall crime reduction of 4.1 percent, or 1,072 fewer incidents, in the last year. Compared to the peak crime year of 1993 when the city experienced 173 crimes per 1,000 people, last year saw 79 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Photos from the cameras would be displayed at the real-time crime center at St. Louis Metropolitan Police headquarters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | File Photo

The streets committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Thursday approved legislation that would extend St. Louis' fiber optic network and fund the installation of as many as 68 new traffic cameras.

The bill authorizes the city to spend the $3.4 million in federal money and commits $500,000 in matching funds. Laclede Gas and Downtown STL Inc. are contributing private dollars as well.

Mayor Francis Slay, left, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson unveil the new Real Time Crime Center at police headquarters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police will get a new tool this summer to help battle crime. Media got a preview Thursday of the Real Time Crime Center, on the sixth floor of police headquarters at 1915 Olive.